Archive for the ‘food’ Category

A Bit of Sweden Along the Lincoln Highway

August 30, 2018

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

This story started simply: I had an old postcard of a restaurant in Aurora, Illinois, in my LH collection. The back lists the location as “US business Route 30” so I wanted to check if it was truly on the Lincoln Highway (which is not always the same as Route 30). As is often the case, there’s not a lot of info out there on a restaurant from long ago, but what remains paints a story of an interesting family business.

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Bit of Sweden Smorgasbord opened in 1955 on the east side of Aurora at 110 Hill Ave, on the southeast corner of Benton/Summit. It was across from today’s Hansens Motel, itself a vintage business still operating. Hill and Benton indeed served as the 2nd generation LH and later US 30.

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There was already a Bit of Sweden, closer to Chicago on Rush Road, that had opened about 1930. The Aurora restaurant — which would make sense to be related, though I could find no connection — was run by siblings Arvid (b. 1907) and Edith Nelson. For its next 15 or so years, it received a yearly profile in the local newspaper’s dining section.

A 1965 profile said its neon sign showed a dancing Poyk and Flicka (Swedish for little boy and girl), while inside there were more than 50 foods, a stone fireplace, and themed decor: “The smorgasbord tables are set against a background of a pastoral mural and under special Swedish styled modern lighting.” It also included this ad:

LH Sweden ad.1965.jpg

The largest profile, in 1960, described some of the food customers got for $2 buffet, including fish, roast spring chicken, Swedish meatballs, scalloped potatoes, baked ham, prime rib, Swiss steak, soup, and pickled herring. Homemade rolls and bread, dessert, and drinks were included, though no alcohol was permitted.

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The last profile ran in 1972; by 1975, the equipment was being auctioned … after the place had been converted to BoJangle’s Discoteque. There ends the trail, and story, of Aurora’s Bit of Sweden.

I could find nothing online about Edith, but Arvid (who passed away in 1986) has a fund named in his honor. The Arvid Nelson Memorial Fund was established in 2013 by his son Alan (b. 1937) to support The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, a tax-exempt public charity of funds and resources given by local citizens to enhance and support the quality of life in the Fox River Valley. Visit
https://www.communityfoundationfrv.org/profile/nelson-arvid-fund to learn more.

First waitress in 1938 remembers Serro's DIner

June 14, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
As the former Serro’s Diner moves closer to being back in service, the diner’s first waitress got to visit the restoration project. The Serro family opened the brand new 1938 O’Mahony-brand diner in Irwin, Pa., as a Lincoln Highway bypass was being built around the town for the coming Pennsylvania Turnpike terminus. The diner will soon be part of a museum complex being built by the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor between Greensburg and Ligonier.

A story in the Tribune-Review (including the two images here by Eric Schmadel) reported how 95-year-old Jenny Baloh recently visited the diner where she began waitressing in 1938. As one of the 10 Serro siblings, she was THE first waitress:

My brothers (Louis and Joseph) bought the dining car when I was a teenager. I told them I didn’t know a thing about waitressing. They said, “You’ll learn.”

The diner was rescued from likely demolition in 1992 when I had the pleasure of arranging for its purchase and move by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, now the Heinz History Center. With no practical place to display the diner, it was given to the LHHC. After almost 2 years of work, the diner is almost ready for it’s new home, a  soon-to-be-constructed addition at the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum along Route 30 East, across from the Kingston Bridge.

Order Lincoln Highway Companion from Amazon – click HERE

Diner to again serve Lincoln Highway travelers

November 23, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ran an update about the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor’s plan to open an interpretive center in Pennsylvania. Included was news of the former Serro’s Diner being restored. That diner — which I led the effort to rescue in 1992 for the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania (my employer, then and now) — will once again serve travelers, at least with pie and coffee.

The LHHC plans to open the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum in Unity (between Latrobe and Ligonier) near the Kingston Bridge (as of 2012, the museum has opened). The diner is being restored by Travis Smeltzer and his crew from Travis Smeltzer Construction of Apollo, in consultation with preservationists. Smeltzer hopes to have the diner back to its original glory by this spring. The diner was originally bought by the Serro family from the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Co. in New Jersey. There was table seating for 16 patrons and 16 stools at the counter.

The 1938 O’Mahony diner, originally along Lincoln Highway/US 30 in Irwin, was moved to south of Greensburg in 1958 when the Serro family purchased a stainelss steeel-clad diner. John and Lillian Rolka operated it as the Willow Diner until 1992, when it was sold to HSWP, which donated it to the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor in 2003.

From the article:

“We never know what we are going to find,” said Smeltzer as he emptied a bag of muddy silverware found behind the cooking counters of the 1938 diner that first operated on Route 30 in Irwin. All of the items — along with an apron, condiment bottles, bread baskets, ashtrays, old newspapers and receipts — have been cataloged.

“With any project you peel away layers,” said Olga Herbert, executive director of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor. “You never know what’s there until you remove the layers.”

Crews discovered stained glass windows under several coats of paint. Beneath a linoleum floor, they found maple floors. The biggest surprise was a solid mahogany refrigerator, with glass-door insets, buried underneath stainless steel framing.

The Unity site includes a stone, Colonial-style home and former tavern built by Alexander Johnston in 1815. The historic landmark, once called the Kingston House and later known as the Johnston House, will house thousands of Lincoln Highway artifacts including signs, vintage postcards and photographs, and other highway memorabilia.

Read more at
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/westmoreland/s_768642.html

Pa LHHC Road Rally includes Ship Hotel mystery

October 6, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor is once again staging a Lincoln Highway Road Rally this weekend, October 8 and 9. This year’s rally will start in Jennerstown and end at Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum in Orrtanna, 12 miles west of Gettysburg, and includes a mystery! Although registration has ended, you can see the group along the way with its many antique car participants.

This year’s rally starts 9:30 a.m. with breakfast at the Coal Miner’s Cafe in Jennerstown, then visit the Bicycle Built for Two Roadside Giant, the new Flight 93 Memorial and the former site of the Grandview Ship Hotel. Lunch at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort, then a quilt show and Civil War exhibit at the Bedford County Historical Society. The day will end with a visit to a second Roadside Giant, a giant quarter in Everett.

Sunday includes a stop at the 1920 Seldon Truck Roadside Giant and a visit to Chambersburg, tours of the Thaddeus Stevens Blacksmith Shop, and a picnic lunch at Caledonia State Park. The drive will end at Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum about 2:30 p.m.

Participants will be asked to help solve the murder of a former naval officer at the S.S. Grand View Ship Hotel west of Bedford. Clues will be posted along the route to help solve the crime.

To find out more about the rally or other LHHC events, e-mail olga@LHHC.org or call 724-238-9030.

Lincoln Highway Days in Iowa this weekend

August 26, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The 28th annual Lincoln Highway Days will be held in Nevada, Iowa, starting today, August 26–28, 2011. Each day will feature carnival rides and games, food, and much more.

Some excerpts from www.lincolnhighwaydays.com:

Friday, Aug. 26: Celebrate with fun on the Story County 4-H grounds. Lincoln Highway Days Rodeo. Teen and adult dances with live music and refreshments.

Saturday morning Aug. 27: One of the biggest parades in Story County. National Guard honors our Soldiers at War along the route of the Lincoln Highway. Klassy Kruisers antique cars. Antique Tractors. BBQ contest. Lincoln Highway Day’s Baby contest. More teen dancing.

Sunday Aug. 28: A grand day for walking through the Craft building and the Varied Industry building and the Flea Market.

The first Lincoln Highway Day was held October 1983, in conjunction with a celebration of the finished railroad overpass west of Nevada.


Shady Bend station restored and back in business

July 18, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The Grand Island Independent reports that Shady Bend, an old roadside business along the Lincoln Highway in central Nebraska, has been restored and is again serving customers on the east end of Grand Island. I reported on the plans two years ago on this blog. The images below are from the site’s Facebook page.

From the news report:

Shady Bend, once the site of an old-time tourist court, restaurant and store at Highway 30 and Shady Bend Road, has been reopened as a restaurant…. H.O. “Doc” Woodward built the original Shady Bend in the late 1920s after returning from a family trip to Arizona. Doc also donated the land for the first airport in Grand Island. Shady Bend has been passed down in the family to Craig Woodward, the third generation at Shady Bend….

He said Shady Bend was once a meeting place for farmers and everyone passing through. Since there were hardly any phones, people knew who was going to be there and could leave messages for when they arrived. It was a general store that had a lot of different people coming in and out.

“Not only is it historical, it was a fun place to go,” said Craig’s wife, Karen Woodward. “We want to be able to share the history with the people around here.”… The Woodwards started their restoration in 2008 but were delayed by family illness. Things picked back up in January 2010.

“Obviously, the plumbing, heating and electrical is all new and up to code,” Craig said. “We have a new full kitchen, but other than that, there haven’t been any changes. It’s true to what the State Historical Society has for requirements.”

Shady Bend opened its doors to the public on Tuesday serving pop, candy bars, beer, burgers and Italian food….

“I remember when I was 5 years old, my mom used to clean the cabins [now gone] and Fritz, Craig’s father, would pick me up from school and bring me back here,” [one patron said]. “I played on the merry-go-round and fished in the sand pit across the highway.”

Hours are 11 am to 10 pm Tues through Sat, and noon to 10 pm Sundays.

Niland's Cafe on Lincoln Hwy in Iowa re-opening

July 6, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The popular Niland Café in Colo, Iowa, is re-opening on Thursday, July 7 @ 4:00 pm, to coincide with the Colo Farmer’s Market. New operator Sandra Huemann-Kelly already had a “soft opening” on June 30 during the market.

Regular hours will be:
Tue–Sat:  6:30 am – 8:00 pm
Sunday:   6:30 am – 2:00 pm (Breakfast Buffet till 1:00 pm)
Monday:  closed

NOTE: Breakfast Buffet the first weekend will move to Saturday, July 9, till 10:30 am for Colo “Crossroads Festival.” No buffet this Sunday.

You can also make reservations through the cafe for the adjacent vintage Colo Motel, which offers 6 restored rooms with A/C, wireless, 3/4 bath, cable TV, and a shaded picnic area. Call (641) 377-3663.

Denny Gibson's new Lincoln Highway adventure

June 29, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
We’re once again lucky to have Denny Gibson traveling and documenting part of the Lincoln Highway, this time some of the roads to and from the 2011 LHA conference in Lake Tahoe. You can follow his adventures beginning at www.dennygibson.com/lhfest11/day09/index.htm when he visits bits of the Lincoln in Utah. He starts with the beautiful little Lambs Canyon bridge (below). Then it’s across the Utah desert (below #2) and into Nevada.

At the conference, participants rode the old road at Clarksville, Cal., in Model A Fords (below). We’ll save more for our next blog entry….

York PA Lincoln Highway Restaurant sign for sale

May 20, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
A constant stream of Lincoln Highway memorabilia shows up on eBay, less so on craigslist. But here’s a sign from the Lincoln Highway Garage that was on Rt. 462 in York that advertised the LH Restaurant inside. The station is long gone, replaced by a Turkey Hill store that pays homoage to the old place, but this souvenir has survived.

Lear more at http://lancaster.craigslist.org/atq/2384874181.html

Blair blog a fun trip along the Lincoln Highway

April 26, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Jeff Blair has been walking the Lincoln Highway across Indiana to promote the highway but also asking for pledges of support to be split evenly between the Alzheimer’s Association in Indiana and the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association. He has reported on his walk daily since he headed west from the Ohio border on April 14. His blog at www.blairwalk.com/daily-blog is a fun read and many await his daily updates. As he nears the completion, just yesterday he wrote:

I can tell we are tiring …the decibel level of groaning when we climb out of the car to check in to a new motel rises each day.  But we eat a good meal, get a good night’s sleep, and everyone is ready to go again the next day.

Jan and Bill Arick walked with Jeff a couple days, as many others have. Jan wrote, “The success of this walk is an incredible story and Bill and I have been honored to be part of it. Crowds and school kids have been turning out along the route. Mayors are walking and holding dedication ceremonies!  People are stopping along the road and handing Jeff donations!  It’s so neat to see the support for Jeff’s efforts.”

Here are some photos from Jeff’s blog, starting with a Lincoln Highway sign near Townley; New Haven City Hall; the Bonnie Doon in Mishawaka; B&J’s American Cafe in LaPorte; and making the turn at Oak Knoll.